Looking back -1947: Massive train wreck at Dugald


September 6

Cecil Pittman Archives
The grandstand at the Neepawa Fairgrounds, and the racetrack in the foreground if a person looks closely at the fairgrounds, you can see traces of the track even today.
By Cecil Pittman
The Neepawa Press  

80 years ago Friday, September 3, 1937
Five out of 10 fire hydrants tested on Mountain Avenue this week were found to be defective and waterworks inspector Jas. Harper is supervising the repairs. Leaks were found at the joints of the vertical and horizontal pipes in the ground. All the other hydrants are to be tested and if a similar percentage of repairs is necessary, the waterworks men will have a busy time before the cold weather sets in.

70 years ago Thursday, September 4, 1947
William G. Bywater, of Riding Mountain, suffered severe injuries to his back in one of the worst train wrecks in Western Canada. Mr. Bywater was returning from Minaki, Ontario, to his home in Riding Mountain. At Dugald, Manitoba, which is about 17 miles east of Winnipeg on the Canadian National Railways, the train upon which he was a passenger, collided head on with the eastbound Transcontinental train. He was thrown violently from his seat in the parlour car and sustained severe injuries to his back. The collision occurred about 11pm Monday night.
When Mr. Bywater got out of the parlour car, he found a scene of confusion. Nearby lay two dead women and another woman apparently suffering from broken limbs. Three coaches on the train were on fire and in one of them, Mr. Bywater could see a person at the window, apparently dazed or injured and unable to get out. The Ogilvie elevator next to the track caught fire and in close proximity to the track was a 10,000 gallon oil tank in the path of the fire.
Late Wednesday only three of the dead were identified. The number of dead is now estimated at 40, with 18 injured. The fire apparently originated from upsetting the acetylene gas tanks for lighting purposes and the fire spread with lighting rapidity in the older train coaches. The local grain elevator caught fire and the oil storage tank with a 10,000 gallons capacity became ignited. Exploding oil barrels broke the windows of farm houses several miles away.

60 years ago Thursday, September 12, 1957
Mel Wolko, a 17-year -old student of Neepawa Collegiate Institute, should have many interesting stories to tell his fellow students. He has just returned home from attending the world youth festival in Moscow. It was a memorable experience for the Neepawa youth. Young people from 16 to 32 years of age in 136 countries participated in the festival. Canadian representatives numbered 202, there were 150 from the U.S.A and 1,500 from Great Britain.

50 years ago Friday, September 1, 1967
Barbers from this area of Manitoba held a meeting in Neepawa on Wednesday to discuss the standardization of prices for haircuts in the area. Towns represented at the meeting were Minnedosa, Carberry, Gladstone and Neepawa. It was the first meeting of its kind and the barbers from the four towns reached an agreement on most of their price structure. The only change noted for Neepawa barber shops is an increase in the price of haircut for children under 14, which will become $1.00, effective next Tuesday. Adult prices remain the same.

40 years ago Thursday, September 1, 1977
Neepawa’s last rodeo show for the season, held August 21, turned out well for both contestants and onlookers. It’s been a busy summer for the contestants but now, unless they’re going to travel further afield to catch other shows, they can settle down, and count their seasons wins.

30 years ago Wednesday, September 2, 1987
Among the many tales to be told about the victims of the 75 year old Titanic disaster is a story about three men with a connection to Eden and Neepawa, and the promise of a new beginning in a new land. It’s a story of unfortunate circumstance, mistaken identity and a shattered dream affecting the present day descendants of the three men.
To unfold portions of this story, the nephew and great nephew of the three victims journeyed to Neepawa from England. John, 67, and his son Ian, 33, arrived in Neepawa last week on a pilgrimage to the only gravesite of a Titanic victim in Western Canada. Lewis, who died at 25, is buried at Neepawa’s Riverside Cemetery in a grave with a headstone that is also inscribed with the names of his brothers Leonard, who died at 32, and Stanley, who perished on the Titanic at age 23. Of the three brothers only Leonard had been a resident in Canada.
According to John and Ian, if not for the tragedy of the Titanic, the entire family of 11 would have eventually settled in Canada. But, It wasn’t to be, and today John and Ian remain British citizens. Since the Titanic disaster, no member of the family has ever felt the call of Canada.

20 years ago Tuesday, September 1, 1997
Fingerprint experts from Brandon were out dusting for clues following break-ins to TIC Implements, the Neepawa Banner and Long’s Shoe Shoppe last week. The break in at TIC, which took place sometime over the weekend was discovered Sunday. Corporal Wade Gabriel of the Neepawa RCMP detachment said thieves stole four chainsaws, a variety of electrical hand tools, welding and stereo equipment after forcing open a door on the south side of the building. Monday morning, staff at the Neepawa Banner discovered their Hamilton Street office had been broken into. The thieves gained entry through the back door before breaking into the Banner office. An undisclosed amount of cash stored in a filing cabinet was taken.

10 years ago Tuesday, September 3, 2007
Police ruled out foul play in the death of a 53 year old Manitoba woman, found near her burned out car last Monday. Spruce Plains RCMP in Minnedosa said a farmer spotted smoke while working in his field shortly after 6pm. He followed it to a burning car on a trail in Grant Memorial Park, 8 kilometres north of Minnedosa. The burned remains of a woman were also discovered around 9 meters away from the vehicle. An autopsy preformed Tuesday found the cause of death consistent with fire.